Howard Nemerov, Runes (Poem)

Stanza XV

To watch water, to watch running water
Is to know a secret, seeing the twisted rope
Of runnels on the hillside, the small freshets
Leaping and limping down the tilted field
In April’s light, the green, grave and opaque
Swirl in the millpond where the current slides
To be combed and carded silver at the fall:
It is a secret. Or it is not to know
The secret, but to have it in your keeping,
A locked box, Bluebeard’s room, the deathless thing
Which it is death to open. Knowing the secret,
Keeping the secret–the herringbones of light
Ebbing on the beaches, the huge artillery
Of tides–it is not knowing, it is not keeping,
But being the secret hidden from yourself.

2 responses

  1. No soldiers in the scenery,
    No thoughts of people now dead,
    As they were fifty years ago,
    Young and living in a live air,
    Young and walking in the sunshine,
    Bending in blue dresses to touch something,
    Today the mind is not part of the weather.

    Today the air is clear of everything.
    It has no knowledge except of nothingness
    And it flows over us without meanings,
    As if none of us had ever been here before
    And are not now: in this shallow spectacle,
    This invisible activity, this sense.

    “A Clear Day and No Memories” by Wallace Stevens

  2. The Self-Unseeing

    Here is the ancient floor,
    Footworn and hollowed and thin,
    Here was the former door
    Where the dead feet walked in.

    She sat here in her chair,
    Smiling into the fire;
    He who played stood there,
    Bowing it higher and higher.

    Childlike, I danced in a dream;
    Blessings emblazoned that day;
    Everything glowed with a gleam;
    Yet we were looking away!

    Thomas Hardy

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